‘Famous Five’ – Isaac Wong
In this final ‘Famous Five’ chapter on the students fronting SIT’s Admissions Campaign 2015, we have a one-on-one with Isaac Wong who reveals his choice between career boost or a competitive salary package.
1) Which degree programme are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University and will be graduating in 2016.
2) We heard that you almost didn’t become one of the ‘Famous Five’. What happened?
I wasn’t keen at first to come on board the Admissions Campaign. Truth is, I don’t think I’m much of a ‘photoshoot’ type. By that, I mean that I don’t think I am the most photogenic person around. But I decided to take up the challenge after giving it some thought.
In fact, during the shoot, there were countless times when the photographer had to egg me on by saying ‘nice’ or ‘say cheese’ in order to get the most natural smile out of me.
I guess most people would agree it isn’t easy trying to smile in a roomful of people staring at you, not to mention with a spotlight shining on your face (laughs).
But I must say, on the whole, the crew was friendly; they cracked plenty of jokes to lighten up the mood.
3) Ok, so if you don’t think you’re quintessential “photoshoot” material, how else would you describe yourself in three words?
Reserved, active and meticulous.
4) Tell us about your journey from polytechnic to SIT?
I graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Chemical Process Technology (Polymer Technology). After that, I joined the workforce because I couldn’t quite decide on the degree programme I wanted to read back then.
Choosing the right degree programme is an important decision in anyone’s life – which is why I finally made up my mind to go with SIT.
5) So why did you decide to take up a degree at SIT?
First and foremost, I’ve heard good feedback on SIT; many of my friends spoke to me about their positive experiences when they were reading SIT degree programmes. Another draw is the Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) –that seems like a great opportunity for students to experience life in Newcastle.
Another reason why I took up this degree programme is that the other local universities are offering degree programmes in the same subject area for at least a year longer as opposed to the credit exemptions by SIT. Therefore, being at SIT would allow me to catch up on lost time, so to speak.
6) SIT has 4 distinctive traits that it aspires to cultivate in its students –
‘Thinking Tinkerers’, ‘Able to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn’, Catalysts for Transformation’ and Grounded in the Community’. Which trait strikes you as most useful?
The four SIT-DNA traits were first introduced to me during the orientation camp. I remembered one of the more memorable assignments being the one where we had to construct a model using only straws; that was when each team member had to contribute by putting together our individual ‘talents’.
If I had to pick one, I would say ‘Able to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn’. You’re never too old to learn because learning is a lifelong journey.
In the words of Professor Loh Han Tong, Vice-Provost, SIT: “In the learning process, if you don’t learn how to ‘unlearn’, you will become stuck in your old ways.”
7) How do you think SIT degree programmes fare in terms of preparing its graduates for work-readiness?
My take is that SIT programmes focus a lot on teamwork and problem-solving, which are very important traits, especially for those who are stepping out into the industry for the first time.
8) What career plans have you made going forward?
I am definitely ready to embark on a career in the field of chemical engineering. Jobs in this field include Process Control Engineer, Chemical Process Engineer, Production Engineer, etc. But I haven’t quite decided on which specialist area to go in to.
This industry is also quite promising, given that there are many big companies in the chemical industry such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Siemens, Rolls-Royce.
9) Which is more important to you – a career boost or competitive salary?
That’s a tough one. But if I had to pick, it would have to be a career boost. The reason is that in the long run, a career boost would be more beneficial in many more ways – and which could include a competitive salary package in the future.
What is key in my opinion is the need to always ‘seize the moment’ and zero in on the career boost when it ‘avails’ itself.